I have to ask this of all my writing buddies out there (because I already know an awful lot about you anyway) – what’s in your bag? The one you carry with you everywhere, everyday. The one you grab before you head out the door anywhere.

What got me thinking about this was when I went out to dinner the other night with good friends and I grabbed my (admittedly) very large bag. I’ve always carried a large bag — I like to have a lot of gear with me. And people love to make fun of it until they need something and I can produce that something for them. Then nobody’s laughing anymore. (Seriously — I could probably set up some kind of mini-triage anytime, anywhere. Comes from having a mother who’s a nurse – but the writer thing, coupled with the mommy thing has just compounded things.)

Obviously, my friends had forgotten this important fact, because they began to laugh at me and my bag. Just wait until one of them needs Tylenol. Or Tums. Or some gum or MAC Spice lip liner or my cell phone charger. I’m totally going to hold out on them.

“Where are you going with that thing?” one of them asked. “And what’s in there?”

Just a few of life’s essentials, I think.

“Why are you bringing a novel to dinner with you?” She is now digging in the bag.

Why wouldn’t I bring a book with me anywhere, is the better question? And it’s Seize The Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon, so shouldn’t that be obvious?

“And what would you need a few legal pads for?” she continues.

“They’re letter size pads. I don’t like legal size pads…” I break in, but that’s not helping my case any. I look around at the computer for help, thinking that if it could talk, that Larissa or Sylvia or Cece or Sasha would immediately pipe up in my defense. I could IM Katie and ask her what’s in her bag, and then I begin to think about the fact that my laptop could indeed fit very nicely into my bag and realize I’ve gotten off track.

“Are you planning on jotting things down during dinner?”

Maybe. You girls are very funny and I’ve got dibs on everything you say.

“She’s got highlighters in there too,” my other friend breaks in. They’re now both digging through the bag. The husband’s just shaking his head, not defending me at all. I’m wondering if yelling out, I am INFJ, would help matters any but decide against it. I’m hoping that I remembered to take out the 100 page partial of the current WIP I had in there the other day, because then I’d never hear the end of it. They love reading portions of my books out loud to each other and then they ask me, “How did you think of that?”

They scare me.

“You read Soldier of Fortune magazine?”

Let’s not even go there. It would have been better for them to find the partial.

“Seriously, what do you need all of this for? Leave some of it home.”

“I like to have all this stuff with me,” I say. “Because you just never know.”

You just never know when you’re going to need a letter size pad and pens and highlighters. You never know when that idea is going to pop up or when you’re going to have that extra five or ten minutes to just write and I like to be prepared for that. I need my favorite kind of pens, a few different kinds, because sometimes I like ball point pens and sometimes I like fountain pens. I have two different colored sticky notes as well as two different colored highlighters. And the letter-sized pads. And the book. And my mini-jump drive. Plus all the other stuff you need in your non-writing life, like your wallet.

My friends eventually let me take the bag with all my stuff to the restaurant. (I mean, we all knew I wasn’t going to use the stuff that night, but why unpack it all? Who was it hurting?) I love them to pieces and they love me back, even if they don’t understand the bag thing. And I know my writer friends will understand. (You do, right?) Because writing isn’t something you can leave at home. It isn’t something you can turn off. It’s not always an easy thing and it doesn’t always translate easily from the mind to the page, but preparation for that transition is key. And for me, right now, that preparation includes 2 letter sized, large rule pads and a pamphlet on the Art of Camouflage. Because a girl’s gotta be prepared for anything.

Just wait until I actually have some ARC’s to call my own. I might even need a bigger bag.

Steph T.